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April 18, 2023 33 mins

The world over people live with plants. Whether it’s in apartment bedrooms or backyards, it’s hard to find a human who doesn’t have some relationship with a plant. Enter paleoethnobotany, a field of archeology that examines plant remains to understand the historic alliance between humans and their vegetation. In this episode, host Eshe Lewis interviews archaeologist Katie Chiou to explore the spiciest human-plant affair: chili peppers.

Katherine L. Chiou is an anthropological archaeologist and paleoethnobotanist whose research interests include foodways in the past and present, Andean archaeology, household archaeology, plant domestication, food sovereignty, agrobiodiversity, sustainability, GIS and data visualization, and responsible conduct of research. Katherine received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently an assistant professor in anthropology at the University of Alabama, where she oversees the Ancient People and Plants Laboratory. She is currently working on a project, funded by the National Science Foundation, to study and promote ethical cultures in the field of archaeology. Her writing and podcasting as a SAPIENS fellow will revolve around the subject of food, particularly the enigmatic relationship between people and chiles, past and present.

SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human is produced by House of Pod. Cat Jaffee was the editor for this piece, with help from producer Ann Marie Awad. Seth Samuel was the audio editor and sound designer. The executive producers were Cat Jaffee and Chip Colwell. 

SAPIENS is an editorially independent podcast funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. SAPIENS is part of the American Anthropological Association Podcast Library.

Episode sponsor:

·   This episode is included in season 5 of the SAPIENS podcast, which is part of the SAPIENS Public Scholars Training Fellowship funded with the support of a three-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

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